""Suicide is like masturbation; they both like to veil their obscenity with metaphor, using the back doors of language to introduce their unacceptable intent. So I wasn't going to kill myself; I just wanted to end it all.""Straight, 40-something Michael plans to throw himself from a cruise ship, but instead procrastinates his suicide all the way to the gay mecca of Key West. Once onshore, he finds, first, a city with a fascinating history; second, a series of brutal and anonymous sexual encounters; and, finally and surprisingly, a cast of interesting new friends, both male and female-including the beautiful Alex-who eventually help Michael adjust to his new gay self.This is intelligent, accessible writing about how one man comes to terms with himself; a life-affirming novel which deals with the wider meaning of "community"-social, sexual, racial. Subplots are based on geography, art and architecture, and explore the history and heritage of Key West, as well as expanding on the novel's central metaphor,of the palimpsest. For Michael, like the -palimpsest itself, is a man with two stories, and a man who risks having one story erased to make room for the next."A rich and complex emotional journey."-Patrick GaleTim Ashley lives in London. "The Island of Mending Hearts" is his first novel.